Rainforest seeds have never looked this good, and this is due to The Andean Collection’s philanthropic mission and sense of innovation. The Andean Collection turns seeds to beads, working directly with disadvantaged artisan communities in Northern Ecuador, creating a chic collection of conscious jewelry.
The pieces are stunning and vivid, and vary from bold colors to soft hues, combining natural materials with rustic metals and leathers, gently balancing urban with rural.
In 2008, Amanda Judge was living in South America, working on evaluations for microfinance loans. It was here that she began to understand various cycles of poverty. For example, the loans were allowing people to expand their businesses, yet without the appropriate markets their investments were often too risky and not worthwhile. Amanda also learned about the country’s long history of jewelry making, using seeds and other natural materials. She saw potential for not only the fair trade and eco-markets, but the mainstream market as well.
Andean Collection is shifting the way we see fashion, in the sense that it is chic, affordable, and sustainable. Amanda explains, “Sustainability encompasses both environmental and economic sustainability. Andean Collection uses eco-friendly resources--that is, seeds that have been harvested without harming the trees and/or reproduction of trees. We transform those materials into accessories through a process that is also good for the environment and which creates very little waste. Excess parts of the seeds are used as animal feed and the remaining usable seeds are dried in the sun- so it’s a low energy drying process--and this part I love, the dust that comes from drilling the seeds is used as a fortifying agent in the clay bricks used to make local houses”.
Andean Collection never relies on charity. They have created a business model that allows everyone along the supply chain to prosper. This creates a more permanent workforce and an organization that can sustain itself.
In the New York office, Andean Collection is always pushing the envelope and thinking one step ahead. They are acting as leaders and raising the bar for so many other responsible companies. They are closely looking at how sustainability is affecting businesses around the world. Amanda says, “We know that water scarcity is already becoming a big issue in some parts of the world and will soon be something that affects us all. To be sustainable, but also ethical, brands will need to minimize the amount of water they use in manufacturing and show customers that they are doing so.”
In regards to design, when asked if it is challenging to stay on top of the latest trends and she says, “No, this is the fun part! The main concern is keeping up with the demand!” Andean Collection is growing quickly, soon reaching European markets while creating extremely tangible results.
For more information about The Andean Collection, please visit www.theandeancollection.com.
Annie O. Waterman found a way to merge her love for color, textiles, and design with her business, annie o. She has worked on a freelance basis with artisan groups throughout Nepal, Peru, Bolivia, and Honduras. She graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Photography and Ethnic Studies. Seewww.annieoboutique.com for more about Annie Waterman.